From the Cannes Film Festival to the front row of Paris Fashion Week, Getty Images Entertainment photographer Pascal Le Segretain can be found capturing celebrities at the most glamorous events. But every four years, he steps off the red carpet and onto the world’s biggest stage—the Summer Olympics.
“Every photographer waits in anticipation for the Olympics,” he said. “It’s such a unique event to cover, there’s nothing else really like it. It’s a real privilege to be able to capture it.”
As an entertainment photographer, Le Segretain has the unique role of capturing the celebrities who are attending the games, rather than shooting the action of the sporting events themselves.
“With my entertainment background I’m there to cover things happening in the public area, mainly capturing the reactions of the royals and celebrities,” Le Segretain said. “Because the Royals have a special ‘Royal Box’ in the public area, they’re more condensed and it’s easier to shoot them. Celebrities like actresses and actors who attend are more difficult to shoot as they can be sitting anywhere within the 80,000 person stadium, so you really have to keep your eyes open.”
While there are many differences between shooting the Olympics and his regular entertainment assignments, the one contrast that stands out the most to Le Segretain is that the celebrities themselves aren’t the main attraction.
“The celebrities are in attendance simply to root on their countries,” he said. “They aren’t there to promote themselves or their latest project, like at entertainment events. They are just there to watch and enjoy the games as fans.”
While royals and celebrities are typically composed and poised when they know they are being photographed, sporting events are one of the occasional times you see them relaxed, and, if you’re lucky, showing a rare display of emotion.
“One of my favorite shots I’ve captured from any Olympics is of the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William hugging during the Men’s Team Sprint Track Cycling final at the London Olympics,” he said. “You never see them showing affection for each other like this. Only sports can bring this kind of emotion and reaction. That’s why I’m there— to capture these moments.”
In addition to snapping the famous people in the stands, Le Segretain also photographs the real celebrities of the Olympics, the athletes, during the medal ceremonies.
“At the medal ceremonies, there’s so much emotion you can feel it. They have been working so hard to get to this podium,” Le Segretain said. “Sportsmen are very expressive and major moments like this can bring them to tears.”
Rio will be Le Segretain’s third time at the Summer Olympics, and he is excited as ever to capture the extraordinary moments that are sure to unfold.
“The Olympics are like a big giant feast where everybody’s celebrating and enjoying themselves,” he said, “You don’t see this anywhere else, it’s pretty special.”
Which celebs have we spotted at Rio 2016? Take a look at this gallery on Getty Images and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat for live Olympic updates